Dead or OnLive

So, I got an OnLive.

HA! I know, I know… I said that it was probably going to fail, but they had a good deal, (and it still might fail). The cloud-based gaming system that beams the video from a high end computer back to your PC or Mac is free but the box that beams the Hi-Def signal back to your TV costs £69.99. Or so I thought. The lucky people who went to Eurogamer picked up a system for free and those that missed out got a voucher to pick up the system for a quid (and £6 handling fee).

I wasn’t even one of those slightly less lucky ones, but they are doing a deal where the first game that you buy through them costs a quid. And one of the games they have on offer is Deus Ex: Human Revolution.  Worth a punt for a quid, I thought. I have regular Sky Broadband, and it worked fine through my crappy old PC that couldn’t even handle the Cataclysm update of WoW.

Then I saw their other special offer.  Damn you special offer… damn you eyes for seeing the special offer!!!

If you pre ordered Saints Row 3 for £34.99, then you got the games system for free (well, nearly free – there was still the £6 shipping and handling charge) – even more than that, if you signed up for their Play Pass (which gives you access to 105 games) for a month, for £6.99 you got 30% off all purchases. So, for Saints Row 3 (£24.49), Deus Ex: Human Revolution (£1), the OnLive console (£6 P&P) and a month’s Play Pass (£6.99 -and you can cancel at any time) just £38.98.  As I wanted Saints Row 3 on my Xbox 360 anyway, it seemed like a pretty good incentive to swap systems just for the one game.

So, the console is very small, a bit like an expensive door stop. Two USB ports on the front, an ethernet connection on the back, power, HDMI and that’s pretty much it. It also comes with a pad and a USB to MICRO usb cable that connects it, as well as an HDMI cable and ethernet cable. The pad is so close to an XBox 360 pad that you’d be hard pushed to tell the difference even if you were very, very drunk, (I will let you know if it ever happens to me). Also there there is a set of record buttons for you to take ‘brag clips’. Something I will use to take those amusing ‘capped in ass’ moments.

Saints Row The Third isn’t out until next month, so I thought I would have a spin on some of the games available as part of the Play Pack Bundle. So, the first game I put in was Batman: Arkham Asylum. People have complained about lag times but to me it seemed just the same as if I was playing on my 360, maybe even better with the level of detail and rendering. It certainly didn’t disappoint.  The buttons were the same too, with the same names, so for me there was very little difference.  Occasionally, the graphical detail drops out but as it’s a video stream it’s not laggy but the screen distorts, kind of like a very mild version of watching a digital TV channel on Freeview when it’s wet outside. So us Brits should see this as a slice of familiar normality.

And it’s cheap. All the games tend to have a free trial, and some games that are outside the ‘Play Pack’ are really cheap.  Underrated shooter Metro 2033 is just £3.99, or £2.79 if you have the PlayPack bundle discount.  If I saw that game for less than £3 for the 360, I would snap it up.  But they need to be a lot cheaper.

If I had pre-ordered Saints Row 3 (which I could do for £31.85) then the odds are that in a couple of months time I could probably get a decent trade in for it, £17 is probably not unrealistic, which means that the game would really cost me about £15. Also, I can loan it to my friends, keep it, and not worry about losing it if the company shuts down. The OnLive system does have some cool games, but there are a lot of cool games that it doesn’t have. If you’re an Xbox owner that’s annoyed by the Playstation 3 exclusives, then most of the main titles for both systems are going to seem like other system exclusives for the OnLive user. And what about the games that the system will never get?  Well, why don’t you go over and have a look at Steam, because a load of those games will take a while to come out on OnLive and in the case of Valve and EA, that might be never.

True, I can’t play these games on my PC, Mac, Tablet or smartphone but I really don’t want to. What I really want is for them to get the license for World of Warcraft so I can play Cataclysm on a kick ass spec PC on my crappy little unit or even plug a usb keyboard and mouse into the OnLive unit so I can live the dream of playing WoW on the big screen! My little Gnomy, not so skinny and boney.  I’m sorry, but Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga… say whaaaaaaat?

But what about all those PC games that you can finally play on a console? Well, I tried. I thought I would try and play a game of Astro Slugs.  But I couldn’t. Because I couldn’t type my name in.  When I played 4 Elements, it told me that with a keypress I could bring up a virtual keyboard, which then turned semi transparent and I couldn’t see anything. And the game was designed for a mouse, and was frustrating as hell itself to try and play with a keypad.  From the games in the Play Pack bundle, the only ones I was interested in playing on a console format were Just Cause 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Bioshock, Borderlands, Saints Row 2, Tomb Raider and World of Goo, and I already owned all of those! And I don’t have to pay £6.99 a month to play them. I may be exaggerating a little but when 2004 game Evil Genius is one of the free games on offer, you wonder how good the rest of the games you never heard of are?

Hey, it’s a cheap experiment. It’s another plastic wired block to add to the collection. I got to be an early adopter, and if enough of these things are sold then the game catalogue might get better.  If they aren’t, then hopefully someone will work out how to put XBLA on it with a USB drive. Either that or it’s the most technological door stop I will have ever owned…





2 responses to “Dead or OnLive”

  1. Leon avatar

    I was one of the lucky ones to get a free console at EG, and I wasn’t interested in it beforehand, either.
    I must say that I’ve been impressed with how fast it works, especially for trials that don’t require downloading as with other consoles. As for the games themselves, they generally seem to work fine and the ability to view other peoples’ games live is pretty cool.

    But I still stick to my original concern, which is about OnLive support in the future, and how Cloud gaming takes the control away from us. When you purchase a game, you are actually purchasing a license, that basically says “You can play this game for as long as we offer it.” Which means, I could spend hundreds on games, and they could all disappear without a trace if the service shuts down. And I like game cases/discs, too 😛

    But yeah, I think OnLive is impressive, but I still don’t see it as an alternative to my Xbox or PS3. I think I’ll use it for trials and rentals most of all – and my £1 copy of Lego Harry Potter.

  2. arc14716 avatar

    I haven’t seen the OnLive system out here. I haven’t seen it offered anywhere out here on Maui at the stores I frequent (GameStop, Walmart, and sometimes, K-Mart.) The only way I can think of to get it is if I order it online through their website. Even so, not too interested in picking it up myself. I much rather stick with my 360 and PC gaming since I’ve got the physical copies of the game as opposed to a virtual copy that could disappear on me if they stop offering it on the service or if the service shuts down altogether.

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